Over recent years, there has been a huge growth in the number of Nigerian students studying abroad, with many of them on scholarships granted by their state governments. Due to the never-ending disruption of the Nigerian academic calendar as a result of industrial action, a lot of parents have also sponsored their children to study abroad.
Following the collapse oil prices this year, however, there has been an acute scarcity of foreign exchange in Nigeria, making it difficult to obtain hard currency. This has meant that both individuals and state governments are finding it near-impossible to get hold of dollars, with which to pay foreign school fees.
Faced with the threat of being ejected from their universities, these students are now applying to local Nigerian universities in the hope that they can complete their education back at home. Some of the students said they would prefer to return to Nigeria to complete their studies, instead of going through difficulties and long waits for foreign exchange that is no longer available to them at the appropriate time.
An Ogun State indigene, Babatunde Agboola, who is studying in the United States, said: “The message we keep on receiving from home every day is that dollar is scarce and this is affecting our education. We need to buy food and sometimes books but when there is no money to buy them, automatically we will be affected, and so, it is better we return to Nigeria to complete our studies.”
A 2015 report by the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange in the US, claimed that 9,494 students from Nigeria were admitted in the 2014/15 academic session. This made Nigeria the leading source of students from Africa and the 15th largest country worldwide among international students in the US.
Nigerian universities, especially the private ones, have expressed an interest in providing spaces for willing students interested in their respective institutions. They have assured the concerned students that they will provide learning facilities similar to those found in tertiary institutions abroad.
For instance, Babcock University said it was interested in accepting transfer students, allaying the fears of concerned parents who could not afford expensive foreign exchange. It listed the integration of international professional certifications into academic programmes and well structured and uninterrupted academic programmes, as some of the benefits interested students were bound to enjoy.